Five Prisoners of Conscience

The cases of the five prisoners of conscience that follow have been compiled by Amnesty International and the representative of those of many other Uruguayan political prisoners who have been imprisoned for their nonviolent political views. Anyone in Uruguay who voices criticism of government policies is liable to the charge of “attack on the moral strength of the Armed Forces.” (Since 1973, twenty-six national newspapers and five local newspapers, as well as numerous trade union publications, have been closed by the Uruguayan government.) These cases also illustrate Amnesty International’s concern about several aspects of political imprisonment in Uruguay: lack of legal safeguards at the time of arrest; long periods of incommunicado detention; maltreatment, “disappearance” and torture; military jurisdiction over civilians; and poor prison conditions.

Colonel Carlos Zufriategui

Colonel Carlos Zufriategui was interim head of the army staff (Estado Mayor del Ejército) from 1968 to 1969. He attended courses in the United States and gave lectures at the Inter-American Defense College.

He was first arrested on July 9, 1973, with Seregni and Licandro. The first indictment charged him retroactively for his joint responsibility for the Frente Amplio communiqué issued shortly after the military coup d’état of June 27, 1973. He was granted provisional liberty on February 14, 1975, but was rearrested, on February 2, 1976, and taken to a house in Punta Gorda which had originally belonged to a member of the guerrilla movement MLN-Tupamaros, but which had been confiscated by the armed forces. The house, which is reportedly under the command of a notorious torturer, had been turned into a torture center. Colonel Zufriategui was hung by the wrists and made to believe that he would be executed immediately. He was pressed to accuse General Seregni of having participated in the meetings of the “Plan Contragolpe” or at least of having knowledge of the meetings.

He was charged with making an “attack on the Constitution” by the military juez de instrucción (examining magistrate). The prosecution asked that a sentence of eight years be passed against Zufriategui, but in July 1978 he was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment.

Colonel Zufriategui is an elderly man. He is married and has a son. He has reportedly been subjected to various forms of torture: electric shock torture; submarino (submersion, often in filthy water or excrement, until one is nearly drowned); plantón (prolonged standing in a fixed position); beatings. On two occasions he has been interned in the Military Hospital with severe bruises and leg paralysis. He has recently been operated on for a tumor in the Military Hospital and is being held at the Cárcel Central at Police Headquarters.

Rita Ibarburú de Suarez

Rita Ibarburú de Suarez, aged sixty-three, a veteran Uruguayan journalist, was arrested in late October 1975, during a wave of arrests of members and alleged members of the Communist Party of Uruguay. She is charged with “subversive association” because of her political views expressed through her journalism and membership in the Communist Party of Uruguay, which was banned in …

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